Victims' Rights and Survivors' Responsibility: Is the TVPA Conditionality Requirement a Human Rights Violation?

Gary Levvis, LLM, PhD | September 19 | 1:30-2:30 PM

Topic: Legal | Knowledge Level: Intermediate, Advanced | Location: TBD

Numerous United Nations bodies, such as the Committee Against Torture, the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, contend that it is a human rights violation to make survivor assistance contingent upon cooperation with law enforcement. The fact that the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act does so has been decried as placing an “onerous, discriminatory burden on alien victims” (Chakraborti, 2014). We will discuss this allegation in light of three factors: (1) that the objections to the TVPA’s Contingency Clause are utilitarian rather than based upon human rights, (2) that existent human rights law grants discretion to utilize some version of the Contingency Clause, and (3) that the history of human rights as well as international and regional practice implies a reciprocity of duties among rights-holders, which suggests the Contingency Clause may in fact be justified on the basis of human rights. Discussants will be asked to consider how contingency, if re-construed as reciprocity, affects the relationship between such (sometimes) competing therapeutic goals as enhancing autonomy and effecting a willingness to proactively serve other potential survivors.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Examine the claim that the TVPA's contingency requirement violates survivors' human rights

·  Describe international and regional human rights law regarding survivor services

·  Discuss the implications (e.g., for therapeutic goals) if contingency is compatible with human rights

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